By Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 9, 2008
The Washington Redskins released cornerback Leigh Torrence to make room for newly signed corner DeAngelo Hall yesterday, a move that surprised some players. Hall passed a physical yesterday afternoon and signed his one-year deal, worth roughly $500,000, while Torrence was notified that he was being placed on waivers.
Hall's arrival left the team with an abundance of cornerbacks, and while Torrence has performed well in a coverage and special teams role, he was deemed expendable. Hall agreed to terms with the Redskins on Friday, and rather than release one of their rookies who has yet to emerge or expedite the lingering decision of whether to place rookie wide receiver Malcolm Kelly on injured reserve, Executive Vice President of Football Operations Vinny Cerrato and his staff parted with Torrence.
"Leigh was totally surprised," said Tony Paige, Torrence's agent. "He's an ascending young corner, a smart kid, great in the community, outstanding on special teams, does all the right things. The other players like him, he performs well in coverage, he's outstanding on special teams. I don't think it will be long before we hear from some teams. I know there will be interest in Leigh."
Cerrato did not make a statement on the press release announcing yesterday's roster moves and was not made available for comment with the team on its bye week.
Several players said Torrence was an important part of the secondary, a unit that has been the strength of the defense this season. Torrence and oft-injured veteran Shawn Springs were the only cornerbacks who played the slot on inside receivers, and Torrence earned praise for his coverage skills and was a standout on special teams. Some veterans assumed the Redskins would release rookie cornerback Justin Tryon, a fourth-round pick who has rarely been used and struggled in the preseason, and said they were stunned that Torrence was gone.
"I'm about to cry," one Redskin said when informed that Torrence was on waivers. "Why would they let Leigh go? That dude did a good job for us and was only getting better. That doesn't make sense."
Torrence, 26, who was in his second season with the Redskins, would clear waivers on Monday and become a free agent if not claimed. Torrence has played a central role on some kicking units and was popular with players and coaches for his intellect, positive attitude, willingness to learn and improving play. Though Hall's signing left the team heavy on cornerbacks, finding another slot cornerback could become important because Hall has played on the outside throughout his five-year career.
Several teams have been in the market for cornerbacks -- with Baltimore and New England among the other teams who had been pursuing Hall -- and one NFL personnel executive said Torrence's special-teams ability would make him attractive for those teams to claim. Another personnel executive, who broke down film of Torrence recently, praised his smarts, instincts and coverage skills, but noted his lack of size and propensity for tackling issues as reasons why the Redskins might be willing to part with him.
Torrence (5 feet 11, 179 pounds) was signed as a free agent by Washington in 2006 after spending 2005 with Atlanta. The Stanford grad played regularly last season with cornerback Carlos Rogers injured, and had been utilized often in recent weeks in particular again with Springs suffering from a calf injury (he is expected back for the next game, against Dallas).
Hall has returned punts in the past, but it's unlikely he would contribute much on special teams, which means Tryon, if active, may have to fill some of Torrence's duties in that regard.
Hall, 24, has 20 career interceptions and is expected to join the team for practice Monday after the bye this weekend.